So, the other night I saw a tweet that said something about unfollowing someone because their avatar was ugly. It was a startlingly unnecessary sentiment, particularly coming from an adult. I clicked over to the person’s timeline to see what her story was and to decide if I wanted to keep following a person who was thoughtlessly mean and lo and behold! The ugly-avatar-haver was me! And the tweeter had unfollowed me for it!
Well! I never…
After a little bit of back and forth with my remaining followers about being called ugly by a stranger who didn’t like my thumbnail photo, I decided I couldn’t sleep with this ricocheting around in my head. I told her outright that she had hurt my feelings. She defended her action by saying it was a joke, and I shouldn’t feel bad about it unless I really thought I was ugly, which my my issue, not her fault, and I should just get a thicker skin.
Oh. I see. The problem is really me. Not her at all.
That is typical bully bullshit. Bull. Shit. Trying to flip the situation around and somehow make the harmed person feel like their reaction is their fault and their feelings are illegitimate and they need to get over it? That’s flat out wrong, in all senses of the word. It’s factually incorrect and morally incorrect. See, if I poke you in the eye, the problem is not that you have nerve endings that are screaming in agony. The problem is I’m a dick who poked you in the eye.
I am so damn sick of a culture where we let our every little thought fly into open space, regardless of whether or not that thought is necessary, and without consideration of the implications. What value does calling someone ugly have? None. And what are the potential consequences of calling someone ugly within their hearing? Potentially terrible. So why say it at all? That’s the real question, isn’t it? Why say it at all?
Here’s a good rule of thumb for dealing with other people: Don’t say anything to or about someone that you wouldn’t want someone to say to or about your child. Or your mom. Or your best friend.
A shorter version of that rule of thumb: Don’t be a bitch.
I’m having a hard time letting go of the attitude that woman on Twitter showed me. I’m simultaneously sad and furious that she can’t see that she was unkind for no good reason and that she should be chagrined, if not ashamed. I keep changing my picture and making snotty little remarks about how it’s prettier than the old one. I keep going over the incident with people who ask. And the bully? Is still calling me names for not being able to walk away from having my looks, my feelings, and ultimately my intelligence insulted by someone who is thoughtless and not really worth my time or attention. But I can’t let go and I can’t stop engaging with her. I want her to learn to be nicer. I want her to admit that she’s wrong. I want her to apologize. I want to be able to stop remembering how it felt to be called ugly. But I can’t stop remembering. And I can’t stop feeling bad.
What I can stop doing – what I need to stop doing – is needling her on Twitter. Because what I’m doing now is just looking for revenge and that’s just plain bad. That’s when people really start getting hurt. That’s when I could say something that I will ultimately regret.
That should be the lesson in this, really. You never know what reaction words will have and you should choose them carefully. Or not use them at all.